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June 25, 2024

New Minimum wage: We’re ready to shift ground for Labour —FG

….. Pressure on Labour to resume talks

The Federal Government is wooing labour for fresh talks over the proposed new minimum wage after workers’ representatives called off their participation in the last round of negotiation on Wednesday.

Government, The Nation gathered yesterday, is determined to resolve the impasse over the new minimum wage as soon as possible, although it was unclear last night whether the matter could be resolved before the May 31 deadline given by labour for conclusion of the deal.

Government had tabled N48ooo as the new minimum wage during the Wednesday meeting of the Bukar Goni Aji-led 37-man Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage.

The figure was considered way off  the N615,000 demanded by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) prompting the representatives of the unions to walk out of the meeting.

However, Alhaji Goni Aji has now scheduled another meeting of the committee with labour leaders for Tuesday, May 21 to wrap up their negotiation.

He said government was willing to shift grounds on its N48,000 offer.

The committee chairman, in a May 16, 2024 letter inviting the unions to the meeting said: “You will recall that the organised labour representatives walked out of the tripartite committee meeting of yesterday, Wednesday, May 15, 2024, after the presentation of the position paper by the government side.

“However, as earlier discussed, we need to all sit back on the negotiation table to analyse the tripartite position and shift grounds by all sides to enable us to conclude the assignment before you travel to the ILO (International Labour Organisation) Conference to be held in Geneva, Switzerland.

“This is to give assurance to our teeming workforce that the tripartite Committee would do all that is possible to reduce the waiting time in concluding this assignment.

“I have had discussions with our members and there is a willingness to shift ground as soon as we start the negotiations.

“Kindly consider this appeal and talk to your other members too. We look forward to reconvening on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, next week to continue negotiations.”

A Presidency source said yesterday that it was difficult to determine yet whether the proposed minimum wage will be ready before the May 31 deadline given by labour.

“Not sure. The negotiation is still on. The negotiation team will meet again next week,” the source said.

A separate source at the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission said the negotiation was “work in progress.”

President Bola Tinubu had, on the last Workers Day, pledged his administration’s readiness to consider a national living wage that would address workers’ living conditions instead of a minimum wage, if suggested by the Goni Aji Committee.

He said the matter would be “resolved soon and I assure you that your days of worrying are over. Indeed, this government is open to the committee’s suggestion of not just a minimum wage but a living wage.”

He told organised labour that he had not taken their understanding, patience, commitment and support in the course of implementing his administration’s policies and programmes for granted.

“Your role as an indispensable component of the nation’s engine cannot be overstated by any government if the quest for a just and progressive society is to be realised,” he said in a solidarity speech delivered by Vice President Kashim  Shettima.

He added: “I do not take for granted the understanding, patience, commitment, and support you have shown throughout the implementation of this government’s policies and programmes aimed at positively transforming our great nation.

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